Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow

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Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow

Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow (born March 20, 1921)[1] is a Senegalese educator. Born in Dakar, M'bow served in France and North Africa during World War II after volunteering for the French army. After the end of the war he studied geography at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

M'bow began working for UNESCO in 1953 and was the director-general from 1974 to 1987, being the first black African to head a United Nations support organisation. He called the Commission over the Problems of Communication which delivered the MacBride Report (so called after its president, Seán MacBride) in May 1980, supporting international claims for a New World Information and Communication Order. His departure in 1987 followed criticism for administrative and budgetary practices and the US withdrawal from UNESCO in 1984 (followed by the UK in 1985). M'Bow was regularly criticized for losing sight of UNESCO's original goals, turning the organization into a vehicle of anti-American propaganda.

In 1980, M'Bow was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Belgrade.[2]

In 1984, the Government of the United States announced its intention to withdraw from UNESCO, and The New York Times described the organization as "a totally politicized, demoralized bureaucracy whose chief concern is to provide cushy jobs for politicians unwanted at home and a forum for attacking the very concepts Unesco was supposed to serve - human rights for all, press freedom, unrestricted access to culture." The paper described M'Bow himself as "an ambitious man who has cultivated back-scratching to a fine art".[3]

After his retirement in 1987, M'Bow retired to Morocco and still lives there.


  1. ^ El Hareir, Idris (2011). The Spread of Islam Throughout the World. UNESCO. p. 906. ISBN 9231041533. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Flora Lewis, Foreign Affairs, Airing UNESCO's Closets from The New York Times dated March 1, 1984